Preparing for a career full of learning and growth opportunities

Q&A with Melissa Bergkamp, Governor at Large, Generation Next

Harper Industries Inc./DewEze Mfg.

This article was originally published in the December 2019 issue of Generation Next Edition

NTEA caught up with Melissa Bergkamp (LinkedIn profile). Here, she shares actions an individual who is new to this ever-evolving industry might take to advance professional development.

What advice can you offer professionals who are new to the work truck industry? 

If you are anything like me, your first impression of the work truck industry will be overwhelming. Five years later you will reflect on your first year in the industry and understand why your first impression was what it was. It’s a big industry!

The benefits of serving in the work truck market are composed by the vast opportunities available in this ever-evolving industry. In the beginning, it is important to find comfort in knowing what you don’t know. Once you wrap your head around this concept, you are preparing yourself for a career full of learning and growth opportunities. Don’t be intimidated - acknowledge where you are today and where you want to go. 

Lean on NTEA to help with your introduction to the work truck market. Take advantage of the online tools and trainings, become a member of Generation Next and attend the tradeshows and conferences. Just these commitments alone will help advance your career forward in your first few years.

What actions have you taken to advance your own professional development?
Very early in my profession, I identified that only I am in complete control of my career. While mentors, coaches and supervisors play an important role in moving our careers forward, it is vital we are taking the reins.
  • Always communicate your goals. Setting personal and professional goals that align with advancing your career is critical. Take strategic steps forward by always communicating your desires and aspirations to your supervisor and make it known the direction you are working toward.

  • Time investment. Professional development won't always take place between nine to five. It will often take that extra commitment after hours to dedicate time reading, participating in webinars, industry events and tradeshows, etc.

What are your top takeaways from attending Generation Next events at The Work Truck Show?

Network. Network. Network. The art of networking is a true skill and Generation Next understands it is important we are creating an environment to do just that. All GenNext events are focused around introducing members to the industry, offering professional development opportunities and providing a platform for all members to connect with others following a similar career path.

NTEA staff work tirelessly to provide talented speakers you can't afford to miss. Often those speakers leave the group with great nuggets of information which usually transform into great ice-breaker topics to help conduct further conversation during the following networking session.

If formal presentations aren’t for you, at a minimum, don’t overlook the Take 5 gatherings. These sessions always offer a relaxed environment where you can take a quick break from the tradeshow to meet some new NTEA members – maybe even connect with a few familiar faces.

Any tips for trade show attendees?

Come prepared.
Always devote adequate time to preparing for a tradeshow. Whether you are participating as an exhibitor or an attendee, it is important to familiarize yourself with the floor plan and schedule of events prior to arriving at the show. This will not only help with navigating the show floor, but it will assist with appropriately scheduling meetings and attending educational breakout sessions.

If you know which exhibitors or vendors you are interested in visiting with before you arrive at the show, begin coordinating a time you can stop by their booth. A quick email or phone call a week prior to the exposition will help ensure you have a captive audience. Both you and the other party will be prepared to exchange dialogue and you won’t find yourself pacing the show floor waiting for an opening to get into their booth.

First-time attendees. For those attending the Work Truck Show for the first time, be intentional about stopping by the NTEA booth. An NTEA staff member or GenNext Governor at Large will always be present in the booth and would enjoy the opportunity to welcome you to Indianapolis and assist with any questions you may have.

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